Saturday, June 27, 2009

NYT Sunday 6/28/09 - Eight Herbs and Spices

Magdalen and I solved this jumbo New York Times crossword on Saturday night after a day on the road. We didn't seem as sharp as usual, and our hazed brains had difficulty finding any explanation for the circles. In fact our search for such was in vain, but after we intuited what the secret ingredients were, the long answers came easily enough.

I'm guessing the idea for this puzzle came from KFC's "secret blend of 11 herbs and spices", although space only allowed for eight in the grid. KFC supposedly keep Colonel Sanders's original recipe a closely guarded secret, but when William Poundstone analyzed some of their chicken coating for Big Secrets, he only found four ingredients (salt, black pepper, flour and MSG).
Solving time: 40 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 1a scythe {Blade for blades}

Eight long answers contain hidden herbs and spices in the circled squares:
23a Admiral Nelson {Battle of Trafalgar hero} - dill
38a coarse-grained wood {Oak or ash} - oregano
60a fallen angel {Lucifer, notably} - fennel
83a pay the piper {Suffer for acting unwisely} - pepper
101a Princeton Seminary {New Jersey ecumenical institution} - rosemary
124a Timothy Q. Mouse {Tiny friend of Dumbo} - thyme
17d James A. Michener {"The World Is My Home" memoirist, 1991} - jasmine
52d managing editor {Deadline maker} - ginger
If I've seen Dumbo at all, it's been a while. I vaguely remember a mouse, but not his name.

Michener Art Museum
James A. Michener was a surprise when he popped out at 17-Down. The art museum carrying his name in Doylestown, PA had an exhibition of my great-uncle Harry Leith-Ross's paintings in 2006.


Barry C. Silk
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersBarry C. Silk / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 69 (15.6%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.31)
Theme squares110 (29.6%)
Scrabble points586 (average 1.58)
New To Me

47a Adorée {Silents star Renée}. Renée Adorée (1898–1933) was the stage name of French actress Jeanne de La Fonte. She remembered most for her role as "Melisande" in the World War I epic The Big Parade (1925).

James Brady89a gun law {The Brady Bill is one}. I thought Magdalen knew all about the law, but it seems gun laws aren't really her specialty. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act aka the Brady Bill, in effect from 1994, requires background checks to be performed on purchasers of handguns. Originally this meant a five-day wait, but since the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) came online, approval can now be instantaneous. The act is named after James Brady, Press Secretary to Ronald Reagan, who became an ardent supporter of gun control after being permanently disabled in the assassination attempt on the president.

2d Cedeño {Cesar ___, five-time Gold Glove winner, 1972-76}. César Cedeño is a former baseballer - a center fielder for the Houston Astros when he won the Gold Glove awards.

Espo73d Espo {Former Orr teammate, familiarly}. The Boston Bruins seem to get most of the crossword ink devoted to ice hockey, thanks to Bobby Orr's convenient surname. His Bruins teammate was Phil Esposito, known as Espo for short, who subsequently moved to the New York Rangers.

106d Reiser {Paul of "Mad About You"}. This is a good example of a clue where I'm at a complete loss, not even having heard of Mad About You. I discover this was a sitcom in the 1990s centered around a newly married couple in New York City, played by Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt.

Yodels107d Yodels {Snack food made by Drake's}. Yodels are frosted cream-filled cakes similar to HoHos.


1a scythe {Blade for blades}. A great clue to kick the puzzle off: our first thought was rapier, where the blades would be the dashing fellows of the days before firearms.

13a Lord Jim {1965 title role for Peter O'Toole}. The clue strangely passes up referencing the fine Conrad novel in favor of a mediocre screen adaptation which came three years after Peter O'Toole's breathtaking debut in Lawrence of Arabia.

72d paisano {Buddy}. A Spanish word (literally "peasant") that means "friend" (often as a term of address):
paisano among people of Spanish or Italian descent in America, a person from the same area or town; hence, a friend.
From The Chambers Dictionary
The Rest

7a bedlam {Pandemonium}; 20a tear at {Rip into}; 21a at ease {Loose}; 22a overawe {Cow}; 25a Solomon {Last king of a united Israel, in the Bible}; 26a tea {Chinese export}; 27a a log {Sleep like ___}; 28a tenure {Kind of track}; 30a wend {Proceed}; 31a in his {"God's ___ heaven, all's right with the world"}; 33a NoHo {Manhattan neighborhood}; 35a Athens {Two-time host of the Olympics}; 43a age {Antique, say}; 46a Ken {Obama cabinet member Salazar}; 48a mammal {Platypus, e.g.}; 50a lam {Hasty escape}; 53a ruder {Not so civil}; 56a e-mag {Slate, e.g., informally}; 57a emails {Computer letters}; 58a a rag {"She's ___ doll" (4 Seasons lyric)}; 63a NCAA {ESPN topic}; 64a Pan Am {It was flown by James Bond in "Dr. No"}; 66a yield {Investor's concern}; 67a mynah {Mimic of a sort}; 69a plaza {Site of many a fountain}; 70a Sam's {___ Club}; 71a spec {You may work on it}; 74a stein {Container that's hoisted}; 77a get-up {Costume}; 79a tease {Kid}; 80a Wendy {Title girl of a 1964 Beach Boys song}; 81a Emil {Runner Zátopek}; 88a eels {Spiny ___ (aquarium fish)}; 91a Aron {Elvis's middle name}; 92a so do I {"Me too"}; 94a rye {Bar stock}; 95a Angela {German chancellor Merkel}; 96a Walesa {1983 Peace Nobelist}; 98a art {Magazine department}; 100a die {Stop}; 108a doodle {Daydreamer's doing}; 110a Moab {Biblical kingdom}; 111a St. Leo {Fifth-century pope}; 112a -itis {Medical suffix}; 114a drawee {Party to a financial transaction}; 118a cash {Transaction option}; 120a lid {Upper limit}; 121a Matthau {Co-star of "Grumpy Old Men," 1993}; 127a amoebic {Amorphous}; 128a teenie {Like a yellow polka dot bikini in a 1961 #1 hit}; 129a Mendel {The Father of Genetics}; 130a corrode {Eat away}; 131a unrest {Tumult}; 132a inters {Lays low?}.

1d static {Interference}; 3d Yamaha {Kawasaki competitor}; 4d tri- {Numerical prefix}; 5d harasser {Tormentor}; 6d et al {Abbr. after some names}; 7d Bangor {City on the Penobscot}; 8d été {When école is not in session}; 9d deltoid {Shoulder muscle}; 10d lase {Perform high-tech surgery on}; 11d a son {"And she shall bring forth ___": Matthew 1:21}; 12d menu {It may be written on a blackboard}; 13d lose to {Finish behind}; 14d ovo- {Egg: Prefix}; 15d rel. {Brother or brother-in-law: Abbr.}; 16d drown {Be covered with, with "in"}; 18d I won {Cry of glee}; 19d mend {Heal}; 24d long {Time-consuming}; 29d raw egg {Possible source of salmonella poisoning}; 32d irk {Bug}; 34d Haarlem {Tulip-exporting city}; 36d homely {Plain}; 37d Edam {Cheese town}; 39d enuf {Ample, informally}; 40d no end {___ in sight}; 41d Erma {Witty Bombeck}; 42d dean {School appointment}; 44d gala {Bash}; 45d Elsa {Designer Schiaparelli}; 49d manatee {Sighting off the Florida coast}; 50d Lapp {Dweller on the Arctic Circle}; 51d Aral {Uzbekistan's ___ Sea}; 54d day spa {Place for a masseuse}; 55d Elia {"Dream Children" essayist}; 59d gazelle {Swift runner}; 61d Els {2002 British Open champ}; 62d emceed {Made introductions, say}; 65d mat {Gymnast's need}; 68d NSW {Australian state: Abbr.}; 71d Sep. {Equinox mo.}; 75d idly {Without purpose}; 76d NYSE {It has 1,366 seats: Abbr.}; 78d upward {To the stars}; 79d tenet {Principle}; 81d egad {Old expletive}; 82d Muni {Bond type, briefly}; 84d yawner {Big bore}; 85d Trac {Gillette's ___ II}; 86d hole {Argument weakness}; 87d roam {Meander}; 90d Alpo {Purina brand}; 93d Irishmen {Ones whose symbol is a harp}; 97d someone {A person}; 99d TNT {Coyote's supply in Road Runner cartoons}; 102d il Duce {Axis leader}; 103d sachet {Bag in a closet}; 104d eBay {Web site with the headings "Toys & Hobbies" and "Music"}; 105d allude {Refer}; 109d Oster {Blender brand}; 112d iMac {G4 or G5}; 113d tam-o {___-shanter}; 115d Attu {North Pacific island}; 116d Wien {Locale for Apfelstrudel and Sachertorte}; 117d emer. {Like 911: Abbr.}; 119d sq mi {640 acres: Abbr.}; 122d HBO {"Curb Your Enthusiasm" airer}; 123d aid {First ___}; 125d 'tis {Poetic contraction}; 126d Ont {Home of Point Pelee Natl. Park}.

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